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T-SQL Tuesday #112 – Gaining MCSD Azure Architect certification

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Logo for T-SQL Tuesday #112 - Gaining MCSD Azure Architect certification

This post is about the work I put into gaining the MCSD Azure Architect certification before it was retired by Microsoft.

Now I will admit this month’s T-SQL Tuesday topic was certainly a tough one to decide writing about.

It’s about providing an example of how you kept on going when the going got tough. You can find out more about it by clicking on the T-SQL Tuesday logo in this post.

Shane refers to a book about dipping into the cookie jar. Similarly, some of you might also know about the analogy about using the reserve tank when there’s no fuel left.

Now Shane left it open ended what we could talk about. And it was hard for me to decide from because there’s a few times I’ve really had to dig deep to do stuff.

For instance, if I talked about what I went through with my late partner it’d be too upsetting for some. In addition, I’ve already posted about me digging deep to do the training for the Prudential Ride elsewhere. Plus, I’ve talked about my first time speaking at SQLBits in my last post here.

Which is why in the end I decided to stick with something technical and chose about passing the MCSD Azure Architect exams.


Now some of you will have just read that last sentence and wondered to yourself why I would do that. Well, allow me to explain below.

I’d been keen on Azure for a while and I had already looked a lot into using the SQL Server related offerings in the cloud. In addition, I knew the best way to get SQL Server to perform well was to have a good understanding of the underlying infrastructure in Azure.

By this time, I’d gone through multiple books and videos about the architecture already, and done a report for a company Director.

I wanted to formalize my knowledge with Azure Architecture. After some research I decided that gaining the MCSD Azure Architect certification was the best way to do it.

However, whilst I was preparing to do the exams I discovered Microsoft announced they were going to retire it on 31st March 2017. This indeed left me some interesting decisions. What do I do?

Do I just abandon it like I did with the initial studies I did with the SQL MCM, because at the time I was dealing with stuff from my late partners passing? Or, do I set myself a tough challenge of passing the three exams as soon as I can.

Challenge accepted

As the heading gives away, I decided to set myself a very tough challenge to pass all three exams before the deadline. So, I started preparing to take the first of the exams.

First, I purchased the green Microsoft press books for the exams, which introduced another challenge. I discovered that because Microsoft were changing the exams to reflect the change of the underlying Azure fabric, the books were not consistent with what I needed.

Which meant whilst reading the first green book I had to decide what was still relevant. In addition, I used Pluralsight to watch whatever relevant content I could find on there.

Another resource I decided to use were the practice exams which you can buy when you book the exams. As you can see even though I knew a lot I had to go the extra mile to prepare for these exams.

First exam

After doing this I first went for the 70-533 infrastructure exam and passed. Once I passed I got a nice surprise from Microsoft, they emailed me to let me know I had gained the MCSA Cloud Platform certification due to other exams done, which was unexpected.

Second exam

So, I repeated this and for the second exam went for the 70-532 developer’s exam. Now this was a tough exam, however I somehow managed to pass it.

And yet again, I got another surprise email from Microsoft. This time around informing me I had gained my MCSE Cloud Platform certification.

Final Azure Architect exam

Now by this stage I had been spending every hour I could in the evenings and weekends preparing for these exams. This persistence took a toll on my social and private life. But due to my wife’s patience with me it stayed intact.

By now the retirement date for this certification was in sight. So I had to do the third and final exam, the architecting one.

I ended up booking it two days before the retirement date. Because I had to pass this one, yet again I pushed really hard studying for it.

I went in to do the third and final exam and pressed the final button to see what had happened. It was a tense moment, and a big sigh of relief as I saw the word passed appeared on the screen. I’d passed, and I’d really done my own tough challenge.

It felt so good to finally pass the final exam and gain the MCSD Azure Architect certification. In fact, I am very proud of myself for doing it.

In addition, it’s a humble achievement that I do like to talk about as well. Some say being probably the last person to gain it is an impressive feat.

Final word

What I hope people take out of this is that if you have something set in your mind that you want to do then do it. Because when you commit yourself to something you can achieve great things.

In addition, if you are keen on passing SQL Server or Azure related certifications I did write a post previously that could help you here.

Published inCertificationsSQL ServerT-SQL Tuesday


  1. […] gained an older version of the Azure Administrator Associate certification whilst studying for the old MCSD Azure Architect certification. I then upgraded to the modern certification by doing a transition […]

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